When deciding whether or not to go forward with this series, I relied heavily on those already in the scouting world for advice. Scouting players is a very difficult challenge, and despite my egotistical belief in my own ability, I'm not foolish enough to think my analysis is on par with that of a professional scout.
However, I have been able to see most of the players in the Rangers' system, and I have had the opportunity to discuss the abilities of those players with people in the business of talent evaluation. It is from those discussions and from my own observations that these scouting reports were crafted. Scouting isn't an exact science, and I'm sure there will be differing opinions on the grades, but I'm confident that all of the analysis presented here will be completely objective and accurate to the best of my ability.
Former Baseball HQ prospect writer and current member of the St. Louis Cardinals scouting department, Deric McKamey, on how players are graded by scouts:
Scouts grade players based on a 20-to-80 (or 2-8) scale, with 80 representing the highest achievable grade. The grade of 50 is considered major league average. Position players are graded in five categories (hitting, power, speed, throwing, and fielding), which are typically referred to as the "five tools." Players will also receive grades for base running, arm accuracy, baseball instinct, and aggressiveness, though they do not account as much for the final grade.
An amateur player or minor league player will receive two grades for each tool: a present grade and a future grade, based on how they are expected to perform in the majors. Future grades are added and then divided by the number of grades to determine their Overall Future Potential (OFP). A scout can then adjust a player’s OFP by 10 points based on the lesser categories and their gut instinct.
Marcus Lemon's Grades:
Conclusion: Lemon is a very solid player, but doesn't possess any plus tools. His greatest attributes are his off-the-chart make-up and his above-average plate discipline, but I don't think his pitch recognition is advanced enough to maintain his '08 contact rates at the higher levels, and he doesn't have much lift to his swing, limiting his power potential. Lemon has a bit of a batboy body and doesn't look to have the ability to add additional bulk to his frame. At this point, he looks to be a slasher type in the making, but still has a chance to hit 10 home runs at the major league level.
Lemon is the poster child for the scouting vs. stats evaluation argument. On paper, he looks to be a better offensive threat than he actually is. While Lemon grades out to have the ceiling of a major league regular, he has very little chance of becoming a regular with the Texas Rangers. His glove will play better at second base (Lemon was impressive at second base during the Fall Instructional League), but his offensive ceiling is probably a bit underwhelming for a starting second baseman in the American League.
Lemon's defensive versatility, slightly above-average speed, and ability to put the ball in play are skills that should make him a very valuable utility player at the major league level. If he reaches his offensive ceiling, he could be a starter.